The Expendables (2010) Blu Ray Apr 17, 2011 10:17:51 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Apr 17, 2011 10:17:51 GMT -5
Sylvester Stallone is on a roll. First he successfully revived the Rocky franchise with a fantastic final chapter that washed away the bad aftertaste of the previous final installment in that series. Rocky Balboa was a great way to conclude that series.
Then he revived the Rambo series with a movie that was ridiculously over the top in it's violence - and yet still managed to work without seeming too gratuitous. The violence fit the story, and the story actually had some decent dramatic merit. That drama was greatly overshadowed by the crazed violence, but there was solid dramatic merit to be found in the movie all the same.
So with The Expendables Stallone decided to put an action ensamble cast together that would be among the greatest in the history of action movies. While Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenneger are just window dressing (they were, arguably, the biggest action stars of the 80's and 90's outside of Stallone, but their brief appearances here seem thrown in just to be cute), the rest of the cast is a pretty rugged bunch. Jason Statham is the 2nd lead, and he gets as much screen time as Stallone. That's a good thing, as Statham is a very charismatic actor despite his limited range. He's very good at what he does. Also along for the ride are martial arts star Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, former Rocky opponent and straight to video star Dolph Lundgren, along with a few others.
So he assembled an action movie cast that is among the best ever - that's great. But does the movie live up to such a cast?
It sure does.
No one's going to equate The Expendables to The Bridge on the River Kwai dramatically, but it does work. Stallone continues his reign of bloody terror on screen as the action pulls no punches. The graphic violence in The Expendables picks up where Rambo left off. But all that gonzo action would achieve nothing if there weren't a halfway decent story to hold it all together. Fortunately, there is a story, and it's fairly solid.
Stallone's team has been hired to, basically, overthrow a brutal dictator of a small island nation. This dictator is being funded by an ex-CIA agent who has gone rogue, and Stallone's Barney Ross quickly figures out that the it's the CIA that has hired him, and their goal is to elimiate this rogue ex-agent (played with conviction by Eric Roberts). Along the way Ross meets up with the daughter of the island's suprememe military leader/Presidente for life. She wants the island to return to the paradise (relatively speaking) that it was before the arrival of the ex-CIA agent and the brutal actions that her father would take to maintain his hold on the country. The ex-CIA man captures her and that brings Ross and his team back, with Ross' sole motivation being to rescue her (the $5 Million payday at this point meaning very little to him).
The action scenes are, more often than not, executed well, but some of them could use a little more steady cam and less shaky cam to allow the viewer to be better able to follow what's happening in a couple of the extended fight scenes.
There are some good dramatic moments between Stallone and Statham (and Rourke, on occasion) - just enough to make these guys almost seem like real people. As with the recent Rambo movie Stallone knows how to put together a story and a script that is just good enough to separate these movies from the run of the mill action movies that have been churned out in recent years. The Expendables is among the top tier of action movies from the last decade.
The Blu Ray is also above average, which not a big surprise since it is a brand new movie. The image is crisp and mostly clear with good shadow detail (which makes watching the night time action scenes easier to follow).
For serious fans of the big, over the top 80's and 90's action movies The Expendables is anything but expendable. It's essential.
4/5 (For what it is.)